Budgeting and Planning Software allows organizations to set financial goals and directions, provides the ability to measure and plan against actual performance, and facilitates better decision-making by allowing timely access to data.
We are a global leader in providing Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions for budgeting, planning forecasting, reporting, consolidations, and business intelligence, as well as implementing the right budgeting and planning software for your company.
In this article, we are going to present to you everything you need to know about modern Budgeting and Planning Software in 2021, in order for you to know how your company can benefit from modern software solutions like Vena, CCH Tagetik, Prophix, and many more.
Best Budgeting and Planning Software in 2021
Designating a Budgeting and Planning Software solution as the best one on the market is not easy, as this industry has become better each year in keeping up with companies’ needs for improved consolidated financial statements. Here is a list of 4 key requirements you have to evaluate vendors to make the right decision for your company.
These questions will help narrow down the platform options you should consider, save time and cost throughout the lifecycle of the solution, and most importantly, enable you to select the ideal software partner to meet your organization’s unique needs. Below are just a few key areas every client should consider:
The Timeline: Considering the value a budgeting and planning solution can add to an organization, it’s no surprise that it is often a top priority to get the system operational as soon as possible. However, having an unrealistic timeline for deliverables can leave significant gaps in the implementation process. Depending on whether the organization is self-implementing the solution, or implementing it with a services partner, proper assessment should be conducted beforehand to determine the full scope of work. Internal resource allocation should be discussed in advance to ensure availability and avoid bottlenecks.
Changing Requirements: Changing requirements are a common threat to a project’s budget and timeline. Organizations may modify requirements based on evolving needs, manufacturer platform updates with new features, and changes in internal financial processes. The amount of extra time needed to design, implement and test the changes based on modified requirements is often underestimated.
User Adoption: Moving to a new system or process generally encounters some resistance as users must learn the new method and adjust their current habits to the changes. Creating awareness regarding the new solution at an early stage of project initiation helps in the transition process.
Opportunities for Innovation: During implementation, it may seem like the easiest option to limit process changes is to replicate your current process without significant changes. However, now can be the perfect time to re-evaluate your process and leverage software functionality to make improvements.
To fully leverage all the benefits of your chosen budgeting and planning software solution, a prepared, structured, and proven implementation methodology should be used. Read all about this here.
What to look for in a Budgeting and Planning Software Solution?
What factors should organizations consider when selecting a Budgeting and Planning Software Solution? This is a very subjective question as the answer is different based on each company’s unique requirements. You must know the right questions to ask software vendors when looking to enhance your financial planning processes.
Finance Project vs IT Project: IT departments have historically been intimately involved in most technology projects that an organization undertakes. When it comes to Budgeting and Planning Software, having some IT involvement helps non-tech-savvy finance individuals to focus on what they do best, managing financial processes. A trending shift can be seen towards budgeting and planning software that is fast to implement and requires minimal IT involvement, mainly due to the growing demand from financial professionals to shorten the implementation process and own the management and enhancement of the platform according to their timelines, not IT’s project load.
Cloud vs On-Premise Solutions: Deciding if you will require a cloud vs on-premise solution depends on considerations around data security, availability of technology infrastructure, the ability of IT to support an on-premise solution, and availability and reliability of network and internet bandwidth.
Security and Recovery: On-premise solutions have been considered more secure as data is stored internally. However, with the increasing popularity of cloud platforms, cloud-based CPM solutions are increasingly more secure with newer technologies. In the case of disaster recovery, cloud solutions back up data regularly in multiple data centers, allowing users to recover data faster than on-premise, physical backup methods.
Total Cost of Ownership: This is a crucial factor that companies sometimes overlook when evaluating a budgeting and planning software solution. This often results in projects going over-budget as clients and less experienced implementation partners underestimate the time and resources required for software implementation. A detailed Scope of Work must be drafted by the implementation services provider, be it the vendor or a services partner to accurately estimate the required project scope, level of client involvement, and allocation of internal client resources.
Ease of Use: The success of a budgeting and planning software solution often depends on how well it is received by the end-users. If end-user adoption is not wide-spread, companies find themselves in a ‘hybrid solution’ situation where some users work in the platform and others don’t, or some tasks are performed consistently by all users in the platform and others are performed outside the platform due to complexity or lack of platform capability.
Read more on this topic here.
Best Practices for Implementing Leading Budgeting and Planning Solutions
Leading budgeting and planning software solutions like CCH Tagetik, Adaptive Insights and Vena help businesses optimize their budgeting practices with automation and process enhancement. Successful implementation of a budgeting solution requires strategic planning, skillful resources, and meticulous execution.
You should start the implementation by first understanding the existing business process and what you are looking to achieve in your implementation. This includes gathering functional/technical requirements, defining the scope of the project, and prioritizing immediate needs while also identifying the roadmap for future growth.
Train Your Users Early: Once the plan has been created, you want to start identifying who will be trained on the solution. You want to do this early in the project so that you have more in-house knowledge and expertise which will help lower consulting costs.
Set-up a strong Testing Process: When designing your Users Acceptance Training (UAT) phase, divide it into stages that are easier to manage. Testing can be completed by your end users to give them more exposure to the solution after it has been ‘blessed’ by your power users.
Avoid Technical Complications: From a technical point of view, you must minimize customizations. Utilize as many built-in features as you can during the first phase. Only load the actual data you need; your CPM solution is not your General Ledger (GL). Use dynamic variables where ever you can, dynamic variables allow you to choose members dynamically based on their hierarchical relationship.
Prepare for Go-Live: Don’t just release your solution to your end-users. Make sure that end-user training has been completed to make for a more positive first impression.
- Make sure the implementation consultants are in sync with your project team.
- Have regular status meetings to communicate project progress and discuss issues.
- Ask questions! All parties should ask questions to avoid making assumptions.
- Choose your team. Consultants come with various skills and different levels of strength in each skill. Some are strong in business communication and some have stronger technical skills. Work with your implementation partner and request if you can put together a team of consultants with skills that best fit your needs.
- During User Acceptance Testing (UAT), meet more often to review issues and priorities.
- Review your solution as it develops, not at the end.
For more best practices for implementing leading budgeting and planning software, read our full article here.
Budgeting and Planning Software Implementation – Outsourcing or In-House?
Getting the most from your investment into a Budgeting and Planning Software solution heavily relies on a successful platform implementation. While a lackluster implementation limits the platform’s true scope and utilization, it also fails to inspire user adoption due to potential gaps in product training, improper or incomplete template, report, and process design, and inefficient user onboarding processes.
Lack of Product Knowledge: Based on product demos and other pre-sale sessions, customers can envision how the selected budgeting and planning software solution can help them with their financial processes. However, when the implementation time comes, where those theoretical observations require a practical application, in-house implementation usually suffers due to a lack of in-depth product knowledge.
Resource Availability: Implementation projects involve resources from multiple departments including finance and IT. It is often observed that with the workload of the IT department, they either have to pause some of their on-going projects or juggle multiple projects at once to accommodate a CPM implementation project.
Risk Reduction: There are inherent risks involved with the implementation of any technology solution. Whether it is a delay in delivery due to evolving scope or facing a technical hurdle, having an external implementation partner mitigates such risks.
Change Management: There are several top-notch CPM platforms available today that an organization can purchase, but if end users are not adopting the platform to operate their financial processes then even the best product won’t be able to fulfill their needs. With most new technology solutions, the common notion for internal users is to resist it.
To learn all about Budgeting and Planning Software Implementation, read our full article here.